Medieval moated site and post-medieval gardens at Cressy Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019526

Date first listed: 24-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Medieval moated site and post-medieval gardens at Cressy Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: South Holland (District Authority)

Parish: Gosberton

National Grid Reference: TF 22408 30398


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Post-medieval formal gardens are garden arrangements dating between the early 16th and mid-18th centuries, their most characteristic feature being a core of geometric layout, typically located and orientated in relation to the major residences of which they formed the settings. For the 16th and 17th centuries, the most common features are flat topped banks or terraces (actually raised walkways), waterways, closely set ponds and multi-walled enclosures. Late 17th and 18th century gardens often reflect the development of these ideas and contain multiple terraces and extensive water features, as well as rigidly geometrical arrangements of embankments. Other features fashionable across the period include: earthen mounds (or mounts) used as vantage points to view the house and gardens, or as sites of ornate structures; `moats' surrounding areas of planting; walled closes of stone and brick (sometimes serving the forecourt of the main house); and garden buildings such as banqueting halls and pavillions. Formal gardens were created throughout the period by the royal court, the aristocracy and country gentry, as a routine accompaniment of the country seats of the landed elite. Formal gardens of all sizes were once therefore commonplace, and their numbers may have comfortably exceeded 2000. The radical redesign of many gardens to match later fashions has dramatically reduced this total, and little more than 250 examples are currently known in England. Although one of many post-medieval monument types, formal gardens have a particular importance reflecting the social expectations and aspirations of the period. They represent a significant and illuminating aspect of the architectural and artistic tastes of the time, and illustrate the skills which developed to realise the ambitions of their owners. Surviving evidence may take many forms, including standing structures, earthworks and buried remains; the latter may include details of the the planting patterns, and even environmental material from which to identify the species employed.

The medieval moated site and post-medieval garden features at Cressy Hall survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. Waterlogging in the base of the moat and adjacent channel will preserve organic remains, such as timber, leather and seeds, which will give an insight into domestic and economic activity on the site and the vegetative history of the site. The artifically raised ground will preserve earlier ground surfaces which will preserve evidence of land-use prior to the construction of the moat. The reuse of the moat during the post-medieval period, as part of the formal gardens, demonstrates its continued importance as a feature of the landscape. As a result of archaeological survey and documentary research the date of occupation of the site and its ownership history are quite well understood.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a medieval moated site and post-medieval garden remains located approximately 70m south of the present Cressy Hall, which formerly lay in the parish of Surfleet. In 1086 land in Surfleet was held by Heppo the Arblaster, and at the end of the 12th century it was granted to Walter de Braytoft. Subsequently it passed to de Braytoft's granddaughter, Sibyl de Cressy, and remained in the Cressy family until the 15th century when it was inherited by the Markham family. An inquisition of 1384 reported that the houses of the manor were ruinous, requiring 10 marks annually for their repair. In the 17th century the manor house was rebuilt by Sir Henry Heron, on a new site approximately 70m north west of the moated island. The house was built facing east and formal gardens were laid out to the east and south. This house was destroyed by fire in 1791 but was rebuilt the following year facing south, and this is the hall which stands today, on a slight rise to the north west of the moat. Cressy Hall is not included in the scheduling.

The moated island is roughly rectangular in plan, measuring 32m by 28m, and would have been occupied by the medieval manor house. It is enclosed by a broad moat, measuring 8m to 12m across; the northern end of the eastern moat arm has been partly infilled in more recent times and survives as a buried feature, visible as a slight depression. A causeway crosses the northern arm close to the north eastern corner of the moat and is thought to indicate the position of an original access to the island. An outward curve at the south eastern corner of the moat is thought to indicate the position of a former water outlet, linking the moat with the Risegate Eau, from which it was fed.

In the 17th century the moated site is believed to have formed part of the formal gardens created in the Dutch style following the relocation of the manor house to the site of the present Cressy Hall. The raised ground to the west of the moat is thought to date from this period of post-medieval landscaping. A broad, straight water channel extends, on an east-west alignment, to the west of the moat; this channel represents an ornamental water feature which also formed part of the formal gardens south and east of the later hall. The channel is tree-lined and measures approximately 180m in length and 16m wide. These features represent the only visible remains surviving from a formerly extensive garden arrangement. A drawing of 1735 depicts two broad water channels, corresponding roughly with the position of the surviving channel, lined by trees at the southern edge of a geometric garden layout including regular beds and avenues.

All fences are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 31616

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Healey, RH, Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire, (1990), 80-81
Healey, RH, Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire, (1990), 80-81
Dixon Hunt, J, 'Journal of Garden History' in Anglo-Dutch Gardens, (), 44, 47
Dixon Hunt, J, 'Journal of Garden History' in Anglo-Dutch Gardens, (), 44, 47
NMR, 352522, (1998)

End of official listing